The Modular PSU and the Modern Gaming Rig - A Replacement Tale

The Modular PSU and the Modern Gaming Rig - A Replacement Tale

  • By: Geofry S. Glenn
  • Posted 28th Dec 2011

PC Tech has a well-deserved reputation for changing every sixteen months to two years, though when the experts talk about that sort of change they are usually referring to the application of Moore's Law and how the power of the PC increases with predictable regularity.

That is all well and good but when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of the personal computer the changes that occur often sneak up on you so that something you thought you understood very well -- like the Power Supply -- somehow changes seemingly overnight, leaving you confused as you view new tech that, while it looks sort of familiar, is obviously not the same technology that it was when you first put that computer together a couple years ago!

It may have been uncommon for the average computer owner and user to assemble their own computer ten years ago, but a lot has changed in that respect in the past decade, and when it comes to gamers, a segment of the PC user population who demand cutting-edge performance from their gaming rig, it is the gamer who does not assemble their system who stands out as unusual these days, not the gamers who do!

Like a lot of gamers when I built by current system in 2007 I cherry-picked the best components for it, so that I had a gaming rig that could play all of the MMO's I like as well as shooters, massive RPG titles, and the occasional space opera (can you say Mass Effect?), which invariably meant that I had a box that was slightly overpowered so that it could juice the video cards that powered my multi-head display. At the time the PSU I chose was a 750 Watt modular model from Ultra that not only pioneered the modular approach but made it look and feel sexy...

The Benefits of Modular PSU's

One of the more obvious components of a modern PC is its PSU -- especially since for most models it has this octopus-like snarl of cables coming out of it, with the ones you are not using and that are not connected to a device inside your case often doing their best to interfere with your cooling fans, or otherwise make the inside of the case look like a mess. I am sure that Murphy is planning to add a new law about this any day now...

Most serious gamers will find ways to get those extra wires out of the way -- the most common solution at the time was to zip-tie them into bundles and shove the bundles into an unused expansion bay near the PSU because out of sight was out of mind -- but it never occurred to any of us that doing that could create a lump of power resistance that, in the worse case scenario, could manifest as interference with the video signal and in the worse-worse case scenario actually impact performance on the system storage to the point that it can threaten the data integrity.

When Ultra introduced its first line of Modular PSU's it was no surprise when a bunch of the major players in the industry followed them with their own models -- forgetting for the moment that Ultra actually patented the design and is in the process of suing... You know... Like... Everyone.... The point is simple: by making the wiring modular they pretty much eliminated the clutter, the hassle, and the worry about creating bubbles of resistance inside the case, so when I was building my new system back in 2007 it made sense to include that tech.